Panaji: A high-profile 'nationalistic' conference organised by leading a senior RSS leader, two union ministers and the National Security Advisor's son among others, appears to have replaced former Tehelka editor-in-chief and now rape accused Tarun Tejpal's Thinkfest, as a top-billing highbrow event in Goa's itinerary in the packed festive season.
Five former heads of government/state, six union ministers and top BJP MPs, four former ambassadors and other religious, spiritual leaders, thinkers and academics are expected to attend the three-day conference called 'India Ideas Conclave', co-organised by the New Delhi-based India Foundation and the Goa government December 19-21 at a plush South Goa resort, the organisation's website says.
Headquartered in the national capital's Connaught Place, the not-too-well known India Foundation has on its board Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party National Executive member Ram Madhav, BJP Vice President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha and National Security Advisor and former Intelligence Bureau director Ajit Doval's son Shaurya.
The India Foundation's website which has a complete guest-list of expected speakers, describes the Conclave as the country's "most eclectic and thought-provoking platform for global thought leaders and renowned subject matter experts to discuss cutting edge ideas in various fields of human development".
The Foundation calls itself a think tank which seeks to "articulate (an) Indian nationalistic perspective on issues", while also "increasing awareness and advocating its views on issues of both national and international importance" via "principles of independence, objectivity and academic rigour".
It further says that the central theme of the conclave is 'Integral Human Development' which will be debated and dissected by more than 70 eminent scholars and thinkers, who are expected to address a select group of over 400 participants that include eminent academics, global CEOs, renowned scientists, technologists, senior political thinkers and practitioners and media luminaries.
Among the politicians who are expected to speak at conference are union ministers Sushma Swaraj (external affairs), Ravi Shankar Prasad (communication and information technology), Piyush Goyal (power) and Nirmala Sitharaman (commerce and industry), Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and BJP MPs Chandan Mitra, MJ AKbar and Subramanian Swamy.
Former comptroller and auditor general Vinod Rai, who has been credited with unearthing the 2G spectrum allocation and coal allocation scams is also expected to speak at the conclave.
Former prime ministers of Slovenia (Alojz Peterele), Jordan (Abdelsalam Al-Majali), Bhutan (Dasho Jigmi Y Thinley) and the Netherlands (Ruud Lubbers) and the former head of state of Lithuania (Vytautas Landsbergis), RSS leaders, religious leaders from across faiths, foreign and Indian academics, economists, politicians, writers,
journalists are expected to address the audience.
The keynote address will be delivered by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar according to the Foundation's website.
The website further says that the discussants will deliberate on the role of politics and business in integral development, attempt to connect the continents on shared values, foster a dialogue between civilisations, faith and imparting values as well as environment and humanism.
India Foundation's vision is to be a premier think tank "that can help understand the Indian civilisational influence on our contemporary society".
Traditionally, the month of December is marked with a packed itinerary in Goa, a leading holiday destination, a state which is earning a name as a destination for hi-profile conferences.
Apart from its music festivals, the showstopper cerebral event during the run up to Christmas and New Year for the last several years, was 'Thinkfest', a similar celebrity-littered conclave organised by Tejpal.